Temple Emanu-El dinner to honor Dicksteins

Stephen and Ruth Dickstein

Temple Emanu-El will honor congregants Ruth and Stephen Dickstein for their contributions to the synagogue and the Tucson community with a gala dinner on Saturday, May 16. The theme of the event is “Our World Rests on Three Pillars: Learning, Worship, and Acts of Lovingkindness.”

Steve and Ruth met at the University of Michigan, where Steve received his medical degree and Ruth earned a master’s degree in history. They were married in 1963 and moved to Tucson in 1972 with their two children. Steve, a urologist who retired in 2007, served as a mohel, performing brit milah (ritual circumcisions) throughout Tucson for more than 30 years. He chaired the committee that created Hebrew High, a non-denominational evening program for high school students that brings together Jewish teens from all over Tucson.

A past president of Temple Emanu-El, Steve has been chair and a longstanding member of the ritual and Bilgray scholar-in-residence committees. He organized the chevrah kadishah, a volunteer committee that performs the ritual washing of the dead, and is the Temple’s primary gabbai (Torah reading assistant). He has displayed his musical talents as the Temple shofar blower and a member of the adult choir.

“He’s been a dedicated servant of the Temple for many years,” says fellow congregant Dan Kirchner, noting that Steve has led Saturday morning Torah study “for as long as I can remember” and has trained others to serve as gabbai.

Due to his profession, Steve “is a very precise individual,” says Kirchner. “But he’s also got a great sense of humor, so when you’re working with him it’s going to be fun.”

Ruth began volunteering with Temple’s sisterhood as soon as the Dicksteins arrived in Tucson, serving as sisterhood president from 1976 to 1979. She taught seventh grade Sunday school, creating an experiential curriculum about the Holocaust. She has served as chair or co-chair of numerous projects and committees, including the Linda Nadell Centennial Torah Project and the adult education committee. She created a variety of adult education classes including “Heaven and Hell: The Early Years,” “Comparative Religion: Judaism and Christianity,” and a series on the 100-year history of Temple Emanu-El. She was co-chair of the first Temple adult confirmation class and has organized High Holiday honors and Women of Reform Judaism Shabbat services.

After receiving a master’s degree in library science from the University of Arizona in 1979, she began working at the UA library. As a member of the central reference department, she worked as liaison to a number of departments and colleges, including education, women’s studies, history and Judaic studies. She has written three reference books relating to women’s studies and numerous articles about library instruction and the use of computers in library research.

“She has great intellectual curiosity and great enthusiasm,” says Myra Dinnerstein, who established the UA women’s studies program in the 1970s. She recalls how Ruth, asked to assist the fledgling department as a librarian, “made herself into a women’s studies scholarship expert,” building a national reputation.

“When you’re working with her, she just throws herself into it and loves what she’s doing,” she says, explaining that not only is Ruth smart, but she would “go to the ends of the earth” to find the right piece of information. Ruth became “a close and dear friend,” says Dinnerstein. “She’s pretty extraordinary. I don’t think you’ll find too many like her.”

The dinner will be held at the Westin La Paloma Resort and Spa, 3800 E. Skyline Drive, beginning at 5:30 p.m. on May 16. Tickets are $125 and tribute opportunities are available. RSVP at 327-4501.